With Eric Green
On Episode 128 of The Unique CPA, Randy welcomes tax attorney and author Eric Green, the founder of Tax Rep Network. Eric’s goal with Tax Rep Network is to help tax professionals build successful IRS representation practices. He shares stories, including one where he helped clients resolve large tax debts and avoid penalties, and another horror story that saw a preparer potentially on the hook for six figures. Eric provides valuable advice for tax season, such as considering collectability when filing returns with balances due. He discusses how Tax Rep Network supports members with extensive training, consulting support, and community resources.
Today our guest is Eric Green. Eric is a tax attorney, an author, a speaker, a coach, and probably about twenty other things that I can go on with. Besides founding his law firm, he also founded the Tax Rep Network, which helps companies start and grow successful tax representation practices, which is probably pretty interesting right now with the funding that’s going into the IRS. You know, he helps navigate the ins and outs of IRS collections, offers of compromise, reducing IRS penalties, etc. In addition to that, he was recently named a top presenter at CPA Academy, which was pretty cool, for 2022. He and a few other of my friends were listed on there, which is cool to see. He also hosts the TRN podcast, Tax Rep Network podcast, which I recently recorded an episode with him. So thank you for having me on. And Eric, welcome to The Unique CPA.
No, listen, thank you for having me.
Yeah, it’s funny, because I’ve heard your name for a while, I’ve had many people whispering—not even whispering, shouting—in my ear, you got to meet Eric, you got to meet Eric. And I’m like, I guess I gotta meet Eric.
Most people don’t want to meet me.
No, that’s true. I guess it was through business that I’m getting introduced to you. And actually, we might have to talk. No, I think I’m good. Yeah, I probably, I’m sure it’s a pleasure to meet you, and just at the end of it, they’re very happy, because I’m sure you help them quite a bit. But the upfront part is probably not the most fun.
So let’s just jump into it. Let’s go. Let’s talk about the Tax Rep Network. But but just the whole, I guess the whole overall I mean, you have been doing this for a while. The TRN came out of it after, and there was a need for it. So, want to give us an idea of what that need was, and you starting this and what it is?
Well, yeah,I mean, so what I do is I do civil and criminal taxpayer representation. And inevitably, I’m asked to speak and so I’m walking, you know, I go around the state, and I’m speaking for the State Society and all that. And that’s how we generate work, right? Talk to accountants say, hey, you know, I have a client with a problem, let me refer him to you.
One day, after a talk, I had a CPA actually come up to me and said, I would pay you if you would teach me to do this. And I was like, that’s interesting. And so what I did is thought about what would I do if I had eight hours sort of as a training kind of program. Put it together, tested it, with a bunch of lawyers and CPAs and EAS, got the feedback. And so I put together my own training program, training in IRS representation, and I’m selling it on the internet, I sold like 10 of them or whatever, you know, not much, I didn’t have a list. And but one of the people, interestingly, that heard it was a sales rep for CCH. And they called me and said, I’ve been talking to people in Riverwoods, I’m like, wherever that is.
Hey, it’s about five miles from my house! I know where it is.
Well, I’ve been out there a lot. “And we would love to check out the product.” They check it out. They’re like, look, we think you’re onto something here. There’s a nice niche. Would you come to Riverwoods, we’re gonna record it, you know, in our studio, when I have a whole funny story about that.
But anyway, anyway, they go out with this program, and they’re selling it, they have a real sales force and a real list. And, you know, they sell like 1,000 of them. But I start getting emails from all over the country from accountants, “I love the videos, can I refer someone to you?” And I said, “Well, why don’t you do the case?” “Well, I don’t really know what I’m doing.” I’m like, “Look, I’ll train you. I’ll coach.” So now I’m sending like, retainer agreements out all over the place. And one of these accountants said “Look, can I just give you a monthly, like retainer, and just have you on for monthly?” So I said okay, we set up a monthly membership.
So we have a website, but it’s really just like, a board right? Where you can post questions and answers. And I said, “Well, if I’m gonna do that, maybe I should like do like real training.” So I started doing training and today Tax Rep is about 160 hours of technical training, about 40 hours of marketing training. We have about 350 sample letters, some checklists and documents for our members to use. And we have about 440, 450 members right now. We run three conferences. And yeah, I mean, it’s really kind of grown.
So I would have people calling me saying, “Well, what about, what are the different levels of membership?” What different levels? Like, I never thought, there was no grand plan. I forget who it was, I was interviewed by someone who they said, you know, it’s amazing how you thought this whole thing out. I don’t know what you’re talking about! I was like, okay, that sounds good. Alright, we can do that. That sounds good. And which, by the way, you know, Gaynor, I’ve got some other folks who are helping, and the amount of cleanup they have to do, and they’re like, why did you do this? And I’m like, there was no thought, there was no game plan. It was never meant to be a business. It was simply the pent up professor in me, who wanted to help accountants build their practice.
And so we’re running like a $100,000 challenge now. We have a master class group, two of my members are launching a conference. I mean, it’s really cool. But so that’s what Tax Rep is. It’s really become this online community of accountants and lawyers who are all trying to build IRS representation practices and get away from you know, knocking out returns.
So when you say, so them building their practice, because originally you would, they asked you to be on retainer, and you would help them. Are you still doing that aspect of it? Is that part of the subscription? Or that’s a totally separate thing?
There is a help desk. I mean, it used to be “Ask Eric,” but it’s not just Eric. It’s Jeff Squires and Amanda Evans and the other people here. So we literally have a help desk. So the members can go in and say, hey, I’ve got this situation. I think this is what I want to do. What do you think? Now if it’s something quick, within an hour, usually we email them back: Hey, yep, do this, but consider this. Otherwise, we message them and say, too much to put in an email. Here’s a Zoom link, let’s hop on Zoom today or tomorrow, and I’ll walk you through. So no, we actually consult with them on their cases.
This is pretty amazing. And that’s for one monthly flat subscription price is how this works?
Yeah, one monthly flat. And then people negotiated, well, can I do an annual so we have an annual, I mean.
But you thought all that through ahead of time, you knew that annual subscription.
And then you know, that social board, where we were just posting? In all honesty in 10 years, it’s decrepit. So we’re putting in now, TRN Social. So it’s a program called BuddyBoss. But you can brand it, whatever, it’s effectively like Facebook for the members. So there, we’re launching this, I think next month, I already went into it, went in literally this morning and created my profile, my picture and all that. But it’s like a social network within the members area so they can all talk to each other. Instead of posting and people responding to the posts. Yeah, this is going in places to places I never thought it would.
Yeah, I think that’s pretty cool. Because I was talking with a company yesterday that has a platform for communication with tax clients and all this. But the more I looked at it, the more I thought about this, this is so nice, because now I know that the only messages in this area that are important on tax returns or whatever else. Same thing now with your platform that you’ve created. I don’t have to search through all my emails and see, okay, what’s going on, get through the junk. I know if I go to this platform and look at the social board, this is the information that I want to hear. I liked that a lot. That’s pretty cool.
And what sold me is, what if I could post something and it’s searchable? So now people can literally, in this program, you can go into offers and compromise and see every question and answer on an offer and compromise. So that intellectual property, if you will, is not lost, you know, I’m not doing the same thing over and over and over and over. It’s sort of there, not for eternity, but it’s there for other people to go and see and be like, you know, and the fact that it’s searchable versus the old board was just in time, right? So you’d have to scroll through eight years to see if anyone had asked a similar question. This is completely searchable. And also they can direct message each other versus posting publicly. So we’ll see, you know, it’s nothing I would have thought of.
You did think of it. It’s just you have other people implementing now so that’s it. Alright.
It’s really driven by the members, a lot of the stuff even our programs. Hey, can you know do you have a program on this? No, but I can create one.
Exactly. And that’s what’s kept me busy this January, February now is, you know, I’ve been talking about it for five years, the capitalization of R&D expenses that kicked in January 1st of ’22. I’ve been talking about it. Everybody ignored me because they figured it wasn’t going to kick in. You know, maybe by the time this airs, Congress will make a change, and we don’t have to, but at this point we do. And so I just created a whole hour presentation on a 174 expense, how to identify it, and what’s it what’s it going to affect? And, and so yeah, that’s the same, I got the same idea as you—somebody wants it, let’s create some content for it to support that.
Speaking of that, then, I’m guessing you’re probably gonna get even busier or more subscriptions coming in, with the whole 80 whatever billion dollars of funding the IRS is getting. Do you have any thoughts on that, and how it’ll affect the industry?
Well, so we’ve started getting busier since they flipped the switch, went back to the automated enforcement. Which they you know, they paused it during COVID. Last summer, they flipped the switch. So automated liens, automated under reporter, all that stuff, is now back on. So all the people that were kind of cruising along, taking their government money, not filing, not paying, that is all now come to an end, they’ve already come flooding in.
In terms of the funding, I’ve seen the nonsense about 80,000 new auditors, right?
The government couldn’t hire 800 new auditors easily. That funding is necessary. It really just gets the government staffing wise back to where they were in 2010. You know, because with all the budget freezes and cuts and everything, anyone who can leave the government leaves, as soon as they can retire, no one’s hanging around, you know, to maximize their retirement, they’re gone.
So one is to get the staffing back. But a lot of it is their systems need serious upgrading. And by the way, one of the reasons why we can’t do the things that you like, you just think like I’ve been on them for years. Why do I have to get piles of letters? Why am I even getting letters? Why don’t I have a small, like a Dropbox or Smart Vault, or whatever their version would be, where I get alerted that there’s something there, I can log in with my credentials and read whatever’s there. And in fact, they would even have a record that I read it, so that they approve it, it was delivered and save all the money.
First of all, I think they’re under pressure to keep the post office in business. But that’s my own theory.
But a lot of it is around security. Their systems are so antiquated. So a lot of this really is we need to get the systems up. And for the folks who are like, you know, cut their budget, whatever—they think they’re punishing the IRS. They’re not punishing the IRS. They’re punishing themselves, taxpayers, and us who have to try to deal with an IRS where you can’t get through a human being. Everyone gives you a different answer. So I think the funding is going to be good for all taxpayers. Certainly, we are getting busier and we’re gonna get busier. And we should. I mean, they would if you don’t follow this, there was a tick that report ticked is the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, they police the IRS. They put out a report May 29th of 2020, about you probably saw this, more than 10 million non filers, many of them are high income earning, the IRS knows who they are, why are we not going after them? The big issue is we don’t have trained accountants, we don’t have those CPA type auditors, We have desk auditors. But the Randy Crabtree type auditors that are trained and really know tax, those people are few and far between. They’re like unicorns now with the government.
As you can imagine, to bring people in and get them to that level is a massive investment and just takes time. You cannot meet them in two weeks. And so that investment has been lost. That is just going to take time. As a taxpayer, it has to happen. Unless I am on the other side. I have clients, Harvard MBAs making millions of dollars in lower Fairfield County, Connecticut who haven’t filed in 10 years. And what happens is something happened, they couldn’t get it done, and then it becomes like a just a way of being. Next year, we’ll deal with it next year, I’ll find a new accountant or whatever. And at one point there will be a (Eric knocks) at the door. But until that happens, they’re just going to keep going.
So are they all in their minds at least overpaid? So they’re not concerned about other? Is this something they’re just ignoring completely?
They’re just ignoring. They’re just ignoring. And in all honesty, you know, their experience is that the government is not looking at them, the government doesn’t have the resources to go after them. And so that is an investment we all need to make back. So that’s a long way of saying, I think the 80 billion is good. Don’t believe the hype.
No, I don’t.
About, you know, auditors parachuting into your cabanas, grabbing your stuff. It’s not going to happen.
They’re not gonna just use little toy airplanes to come pick up your checkbook, take it back, or what are those called where they, like Amazon’s gonna use for deliveries,
The drones! They’re gonna have IRS drones come and pick up your payment?
Yeah, the drones basically that we’ve determined you owe money, you better hand over the stuff?
Or maybe they’re gonna be armed drones? You’re gonna have the criminal investigation unit just be all drones now for the IRS?
I think they would probably like that, but no.
Alright. So the one thing though, and I don’t know if you have any insights on this at all, we talked a little bit ahead of time. And this, I mentioned ERC. But what we’re hearing is that, well, one, the Employee Retention Credit, in my mind is the easiest thing to audit, it is so easy to identify one, somebody that shouldn’t have taken it, or at least identify someone that probably shouldn’t have taken that you go in, you ask about revenue drop, and you look and if it’s not there, you know, there are manufacturer in an essential business and you know, some state that you know, didn’t have many mandates, and all of a sudden they took six quarters of ERC, it’s really easy to go audit that. So this is going to be a no brainer, I think.
But what we’re hearing so the long question here is, what we’re hearing is that they’re taking a lot of auditors and retraining them just for ERC, which, honestly, to me makes a lot of sense, because that’s an easy revenue generator for the government. Have you heard anything on that?
I, again, we have not seen our first ERC audit yet. I think I think you mentioned you’ve had like one, you might be getting a second. It’s they’re just gearing up. We’re we’re really just at the front edge of that. And in fact, by the way, one of the things you and I have to talk about is we got to do a webinar on that, on ERC audits.
I think that there’s going to be a tidal wave of that coming.
Oh there is.
Give it a year.
You know, the people that went to their friend wink wink, nod nod. You know, that company that we’re going to put on paper, and they’re just making stuff up? Those people are the ones that should normally be afraid, but often they’re in the wind
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Well, this is the other thing. Tax preparers are being surprised we’re sitting the beginning of tax season and 2023 here. Some taxpayers are gonna be surprised when they’re doing tax returns this year, some of them and their client says Oh, and I got that ERC money and they’re gonna go, you don’t qualify for your see what do you mean, you got the ERC money? Oh, well, somebody came and told me I qualify. So we just got $2 million in refunds. And now tax preparers have to figure out how they’re going to handle that because they don’t know. Do I need to put this on a tax return? Do I need to reverse this? Do I need to disclose it on financial statements? There’s all kinds of messes that this is going to create.
Oh, absolutely. And no, I think the webinar is a great topic. We had it with the PPP money.
I got a call from a CPA client. “Look, I just met with my client. They got PPP money, they paid off their kids’ student loans. Is that going to be a problem?” You’re calling me for a reason. You already know the answer.
I think the question is how big a problem is that going to be? Right?
So what I’ve been telling people what I was like, Is there any way they can get that money and pay it off? Just repay it? If they can do that, no harm, no foul? No, not really. But like then no one’s pursuing it. But if they can’t repay it, they’re not going to get, they’re not going to get forgiveness. No, it really is. It’s, um, the amount of fraud is unbelievable. And Congress knows it’s going to happen. But what are you going to do? I mean, you have to get money out to people. Remember, we were in shutdown, people’s businesses were shut down. So I understand why Congress did it. I would sit here and argue that Secretary Mnuchin did the right thing by getting money into the economy right away. First of all, we have a lot of people, a lot of businesses that are on a sugar high, that are kind of come off that sugar high now. And I think that we have well no, I mean, from our perspective, manna from heaven. We’re going to have audits, we’re going to have criminal cases. Fantastic.
Oh, yeah, you’re gonna be very busy. The other the other thing I would recommend you start prepping for is the 174 R&D expense capitalization, you know, if Congress doesn’t, and who knows by the time this airs maybe Congress acted or not yet, but if they don’t, they don’t make change them this this is another really easy audit. I got manufactured and capitalized R&D expenses, boom, audit because I know they have them. So if this doesn’t change, I’m just giving you some advice. That’s another area you can get prepped for, because there’s gonna be plenty of audits on that as well.
We got to do it in the webinar. I think it’s, you know, there’s so much opportunity. And if you do representation, there’s always—non-filers it’s offers, there’s such a plethora of things you can do, and so many taxpayers in trouble. I mean, 25 million at the end of ’19, I think we might be as high as 30, 35 million between non-filers and people with back balances. I mean, yeah, the need is huge.
Well, so I had mentioned this to you before we started recording, but I talked to Paul Hammond this week. Paul runs RCReports. Reasonable Compensation.
Yeah. I am a fan.
I am too. I’ve known Paul for years. But this is the first time we really sat down for a length of time and talked and boy, it was really a great discussion. But he mentioned that I think he mentioned that you had some kind of horror story on reasonable comp, or interesting story that may make sense to share, you can go over. I was thinking in general, let’s talk about a couple of horror stories. But maybe this is the first.
Well, so the issue is reasonable comp, on S Corps. And Paul, you know, and again, I’m a big fan of the report, the product, the service, to the point where I negotiated a discounted rate for my Tax Rep members. And I was like, well, so let me explain: For the accountants, I think the software normally is like $1,500, I think we got like a hundred dollar discount or something. It’s not about the $1,500. Every S Corp and C Corp owner annually should be running a reasonable comp report. Anytime we’ve used the report, the IRS auditor takes it thanks us, end of issue. They’re not going to challenge it. It’s great. So I feel comfortable saying it’s as close to bulletproofing the comp issue as you can.
Now the horror story. You know, Paul was talking about, they’ll come in and they’ll make adjustments, and I’m like, the hell with the adjustments, the adjustments are nothing. Let me tell you what happened to one of my clients. We had a client, a very well regarded CPA, he does not do bookkeeping, he does not do payroll, which I think is important. So he has clients that come to him in February, March: Here’s my stuff. The W-2s, the W-3, the 941s. They are not taking reasonable comp of like 50 S Corps that he has, he has about 20 or 22, they take no comp.
And he sends them letters: “You can’t do this. If the IRS comes in, they can challenge it.” And he says correctly, “They have their, they can create a reasonable wage for you, or declare all of it wages,” right? Which I agree with 100%.
So one of them gets audited. The auditor sees this letter, they then go and pull five more of his S Corps. They eventually go and audit him. They charged him with 6694 (A) and (B). Now just if you don’t know what that is, 6694 (A) is the negligence penalty for a preparer who did something, it wasn’t intentional. (B) is reckless disregard. It’s effectively fraud. And so what they did at the time, it was I think the negligence was $1,000, reckless disregard was $5,000. They charged him for 21 of these, all of it, it’s like $132,000 or something like that in penalties. We now get involved.
And ultimately, so what happens when you challenge a penalty, you pay 15%, and then you file for a refund. He pays the 15%. So the 15% by the way, is 20 grand. 20 grand, files for the refund. We file that, so we have to wait six months, we file in Federal District Court, the government counters, we end up now in a pitched kind of an argument back and forth with DOJ. I really thought we would win if we go to trial. I think we’re going to win. It is not incumbent on him after the fact to recreate a salary that they themselves didn’t take. In other words, the government remedy should have been to go after the taxpayers, not him. Their argument was, in sending that letter, he proved that he knew that the return was inaccurate. But that’s not true. They didn’t claim a salary. The return is accurate as filed. So that’s the pitched battle.
The government calls. And by the way, he’s now spent about $15,000 in legal fees on us. So he’s into this for $35,000, which is probably more than he made on all those returns. The government called and said, if he’ll concede, right now, if they’ll settle for what he paid, the 20. We’re done, we’ll settle. Now, of course, it’s easy for me to say keep fighting. But you know, listen, if you go to the clients and look, you know, because the benefit is, you’re all done. It’s done, then I’ll go after your license. You know, whatever. On the flip side, we can fight, you can spend $50,000, and we can lose, you know, the judge doesn’t buy it. And ultimately, he settled the case, but you’re talking about a horror story. With reasonable comp, it isn’t so much about, you know, 60 versus 70. It’s really about if the IRS comes in and they think they see this pattern, they’re going after the preparer.
So I mean, so one, you can bulletproof this for the client with the report. Two, you bulletproof yourself. Excuse me, my clients do get the report, we use the report. The only way the IRS can go after me is you’re challenging the validity of the report. Not going to happen. But number three, it’s an annuity. You don’t do this for free. This isn’t part of the 1120 prep. They have to pay $500, $750, for the report. One of my Tax Rep members told me “Oh, yeah, love RCReports.” He said “We’re taking $25,000 a year on reasonable comp reports. You know, 1,400, 1,500 bucks.”
And so for three reasons, one, the client, audit proof it. Two, you shield yourself, because how much more reasonable could you be? And number three, you created an annuity stream for yourself, not to talk business and dollars, but let’s be honest, we’re all into business and dollars. You created a revenue stream for yourself using the software.
Right. So yeah, that reasonable comp, just that, in general, is obviously a huge thing for taxpayers and taxpayers in general. How about other things? We’re just starting, as we mentioned, a couple of times, we’re just starting tax season, are there other things people should be considering during tax season that you find helpful?
Well, one of the big things I see is if you have taxpayers that are going to owe balances. And it could be non-filers that are coming in, or just you know, this year, if they’re going to have a balance due on that return, it is imperative that you say “Okay, we’re gonna have this balance. Can you pay it?” “Oh, no, I can’t pay that.” Stop. Even if you have to put them on an extension, stop. Because what we need to think through is what is the endgame here? What does collection look like right now?
I’ll give you an example. So I got referred clients who are non-filers they’ve had, like horrific things happen to them in the last, you know, six, seven years. So first of all, you only have to, for the IRS, you only have to file the last six years to be in compliance. It’s in the Internal Revenue manual. Most states have voluntary disclosure programs. The IRS has a voluntary disclosure program. It’s really for criminal, it’s not for civil.
So similarly, if someone came to you and said, You know, I haven’t filed since 2000. You don’t need to do 21 or 22 years of tax returns. The last six—’17 through ’22—they’re good. They’re in compliance. Most states vary, you know, but, you know, anywhere from three to seven years in most states. Before you just kneejerk file joint—this couple gets referred to me, and thankfully, we had draft returns—the CPA said, “Alright, Eric, we’re going to file these, but they want to talk to you first.” So I look at them. They’re gonna owe $650,000, you know, and about $150,000 to the state. And I said, “Okay, so let’s look at the collection.” She inherited their home in lower Fairfield County, small home, but still $1.2 million, no mortgage. And she had been a corporate executive in New York, had rollover, her 401(k) to an IRA, about $500,000. He has a pickup truck and a small IRA. That’s it.
So I said, I think you should do married filing separate. She is a stay at home mom. They have a special needs child. You know, he’s a self-employed salesman. Called the CPA, and I said, look, run these married filing separate and let me see what the numbers are. So he called back and he said, “Now we’re up closer to $800,000. So we’re going to do joint.” And I said, “No, we’re going to do separate.” And he said, “Why would you do that? You’re going to cost them $150,000.” I said, “No, I’m going to save her $650,000. She can pay. She’s got a house worth 1.2, and cashing in the self-directed IRA, she’d come up with $350,000 just like that.”
So they’re gonna end up full paying this. If we do married filing separate—now, I’m in Connecticut. If you’re in a community property state, it gets a little more complicated. But in one of the 41 separate property states, let’s do married filing separate, she owes nothing. Her assets are off the table. He owes. But so what? I ended up doing an offer and compromise for him for $8,500.
I made $800,000 go away. So if you’re interested in the strategy, you can come to Tax Rep, we’ll teach you how to do offers. But the big thing for anyone who’s preparing returns, is don’t just kneejerk, willy nilly, file joint, alright? And one of the pushbacks I’ll get is, “Eric, these people have always filed joint. Now all of a sudden, we’re going to do separate? Doesn’t that raise a red flag?”
No. First of all, you can pick year to year. The natural filing, which I think most accountants don’t understand this, the natural state of filing is married filing separate; you elect to go joint. Now once you elect to go joint, you cannot amend out, you’re stuck.
For that year.
If you file before the filing deadline, and you amend before the filing deadline, it’s called a superseding return, then you can actually amend to be separate. That’s the only circumstance. Once it’s filed, and the filing deadline is gone, they’re stuck. So one, consider the collectability. And remember, married filing separate.
The other thing is this. The returns come in Randy, you’ve years ago, you’ve done this, I’ve done this, they show up on October 15. You gotta hurry up and file it, hurry, hurry, hurry, file it, file it, file it, I can’t get penalized if I file. And you don’t know, it’s five o’clock on a Friday, it’s the 15th, and my wife is meeting me at a restaurant, I have a celebration to get to, here’s what you do: Married filing separate, shake their hand, thank you very much, I’ll see in two weeks, we figure out what the hell we’re doing, and we can always amend to go joint. You can always amend to go joint.
You can, you can go the other way.
If I file you joint, I cannot amend to go separate. So at least, don’t do any more damage. Do the married filing separate, and then you can, you know, by the way, they pay for this. This isn’t part of the prep that I mean, now we’re doing like collection planning here, strategy. You’re gonna go through that with them. Listen, if they’re better off joint and they can full pay, and you want to minimize the liability, amend to go joint, no big deal. But if you determine geez, I’m glad we didn’t file joint, that would have dragged her million dollar house into this. You’re a hero.
Now, they may not see it that way. But you avoided a malpractice claim, because inevitably those people show up in our office, and we’re going like, ooh, why did you file joint? What do they say? The CPA told me to, right?
Now the CPA probably never even thought about it. They just hurry up, they get the returns done. No one’s thinking about the collection aspect now. So it’s just my word of advice. The thing that we see a lot of that could be a lot of heartache can be saved at the time of filing is if there’s a liability, put the brakes on, you have to consider collectability. If you don’t have that kind of time, because they’ve now created a fire drill for you, and we know plenty of them do.
Just, you can always do married filing separate. You haven’t done any damage. They can always go back and elect to go joint. If you file joint, they’re stuck.
You’re done. Alright. Something I never even thought about before.
I think that actually shows, that alone is showing me the value of the Tax Rep Network, and the knowledge, and just that 200 hours of webinars or whatever it is you have and knowledge base in the chat, social network, everything you got there. Why don’t you give us, I think this is a good spot, why don’t you give us a little more information on that. We don’t normally do sales pitches. I’m not saying a sales pitch, I just, to me it sounds like a very important tool. So give us some more information on it.
Well, how would this be one of the other popular questions I get is “Eric, I wanted to do representation. I don’t want to get rid of my 1040, or what should I do with my 1040 practice or 1120 practice,” whatever. So my million dollar book is out, and there’s a whole chapter that’s what to do with your practice. Honestly, what do you want to do with it? Alright? I don’t suggest getting rid of it. A representation practice really dovetails very nicely if you are doing compliance. If you want to get out of compliance, you’ve got the skills, we can teach you what you need to know. But you don’t have to.
But I, here’s what I will tell you to do, what I suggest to all of my members. In November, December, first of all , pull your client list, pull your receivables list, you shouldn’t have receivables. Nobody’s returns should be filed now until you’re paid. But whatever, alright, we can argue about practice management later. But first of all, anyone that owes you money, go and collect it immediately. After you’ve collected as much as you can, anyone who’s not gonna be able to pay, those people are easy, you fire them, ASAP. You rank everybody else, A to F, the F and the Ds are gone. And you know who these people are. The ones that you dread their phone calls, their emails, they suck your will to live, they’re gone.
And it doesn’t have to be nasty. I told my members, send a letter, “Thank you for your past business. We are so busy at this point, we are unable now to continue servicing your account. You have all of your original documents, please make sure you find a new preparer for this year going forward. We wish you the best of luck,” basically.
But we’re going to do in a nice way. But the A, B and C clients rates go up every year, what you want to do, what we’re going for, your practice should work for you, not you for it. So A, you want to be working with A clients you want to be working with people that respect you, respect boundaries, are paying you a reasonable fee. And honestly, tax season doesn’t have to be till midnight, seven days a week, you know, I have members, they go home six o’clock, they will work part of one of the days on the weekend. That’s it. Why? They’re charging appropriately, and they got rid of the clients they don’t want.
But to dovetail into Tax Rep. So we have the 160 hours of on-demand training, we do three monthly live sessions, a Q&A case study of the month, and a marketing, you know, webinars with our members. We do three conferences, but we are also their helpdesk. So they can actually log in and say, “Hey, this is my issue.” They’ll get an email immediately. But always we get on a zoom with them. So the membership is really, it’s really a training program. So it’s not, you can get to my library. It’s you get access to us, right? We’re we’re gonna be there with you building your practice, to hopefully that million dollar practice you’ve always wanted.
Nice. Alright, well, before I ask for contact information, then we’re going wrap up with two final questions, well, one is just contact information. So one final question I haven’t warned you about—I don’t think I did. So every time we do this, you know, I just always amazed with the knowledge everybody has and what they’re willing to share. And I know you’re huge on sharing knowledge with your education, everything. And this is great when you’re not out educating or helping taxpayers or helping tax preparers, what’s your outside of work passions? And what do you love doing?
That is something no one’s asked me. What are you doing when you’re not working? What people see is the cigars and the whiskey because I tend to post those pictures on social. And so first of all, people tend to send me cigars and whiskey—please don’t. No, it’s funny. I actually mentioned a particular whiskey and I got like eight bottles.
Oh, yeah. And by the way, I have two cigars a month. I have one drink a week, maybe, right? I’m not like pounding back whiskey. Outside, I’m actually, I will tell you, and for those who read the book will know this. I was an out of control person. I didn’t have any hobbies. There were no hobbies. My hobby was the next book. My hobby was the next webinar.
I’m spending way more time hiking and walking and just trying to get fresh air, clear my head, spend time with my wife and my kids before my kids decide they’re not going to speak to me anymore, and leave, and all that. So it’s really I’m trying to get more outdoors and moving. You know, my 52-year-old body needs it having sat behind a desk all this time.
Alright, well, that’s good, because, I’ve talked about this before, and these are stats I’ve gotten from my friend John Garrett, who I have to mention his name every episode. I’m contractually obligated to. I am not contractually, but he has statistics out there that I think a number is 93% of people, or 92, have an outside of work passion. So you say, you used to be one of that 8%. And you’ve made the conversion, which is huge, because everybody needs to do that. So thanks for telling us that, I appreciate it.
And then the last question, which is not really a question I think you have an easy answer, is if anybody wants to get a hold of you, or find out more about TRN, or anything in general, what’s the best place for them to look?
You know, I’m on all the social platforms, obviously, and everything else, the podcast, but um, it’s TaxRepLLC.com. And you can email me either at the law firm, which is a little bit longer EGreen@GS-LawFirm.com or Eric@TaxRepLLC.com. You’ll get me. I’m actually a pretty easy guy to find. I’m kind of everywhere.
Yeah, I’ve done that, I’ve done a Google search and you pop up quite a bit. So yes, you are fairly easy to find. I found you on LinkedIn. That’s actually, how even though everybody was telling me, I got to meet you, nobody did an introduction. So I finally said, I’m going on LinkedIn and send Eric a message, and he responded like that. So I’m not telling everybody, go send him messages left and right, right now, although maybe he wants that. But yes, Eric is findable.
Yeah, no, absolutely. And yeah, no, I’m gonna have a tough time hiding from the government if I ever go on the land. I’m everywhere, I like getting messages.
Yeah. Well, I know you and I are both going to be at some conferences together this coming conference season. And so I’m looking forward to getting together, maybe having a beer. I’m not a whiskey guy. I’ll have a beer. And if anybody does want to send me some Pliny the Elder, I wouldn’t be opposed to it—that’s my favorite beer. Which I’m not expecting. Do not send me beer.
So well, Eric, thanks again for being here. Thanks for doing this, had a great time. And I really appreciate all your knowledge you’re able to share with everybody.
Well Randy, thanks for having me. Thank you, everyone, for listening.
About the Guest
Eric Green is the founder of Tax Rep Network, a community which serves over 500,000 tax, accounting, and legal professionals each year. Eric’s practice focuses on criminal and civil taxpayer representation, business planning and estate planning. He specializes in representing individuals and business owners before the IRS, the Department of Justice Tax Division, and state taxing authorities, as well as business planning, tax planning and estate planning strategies to help clients reach their goals.
A Founding Partner at Green & Sklarz, LLC, Eric speaks frequently on tax controversy and criminal tax topics for a number of organizations, including CCH, The NAEA, ABA Tax Section, the Connecticut Bar and NATP. He has served as Chair of the Closely Held Business Tax Committee for the American Bar Association, and as the Chair of the Executive Tax Committee of the Connecticut Bar Association. He is a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel, a columnist for the Journal of Practice & Procedure, and the founder of the New England IRS Representation Conference that takes place every fall at Foxwoods.
Meet the Host
Randy Crabtree, CPA
Randy Crabtree, co-founder and partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals, is a widely followed author, lecturer and podcast host for the accounting profession.
Since 2019, he has hosted the bi-weekly “The Unique CPA,” podcast, which ranks among the world’s 5% most popular programs (Source: Listen Score). You can find articles from Randy in Accounting Today’s Voices column, the AICPA Tax Adviser (Tax-saving opportunities for the housing and construction industries) and he is a regular presenter at conferences and virtual training events hosted by CPAmerica, Prime Global, Leading Edge Alliance (LEA), Allinial Global and several state CPA societies. Crabtree also provides continuing professional education to top 100 CPA firms across the country.
Schaumberg, Illinois-based Tri-Merit is a niche professional services firm that specializes in helping CPAs and their clients benefit from R&D tax credits, cost segregation, the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction (179D), the energy efficient home credit (45L) and the employee retention credit (ERC).
Prior to joining Tri-Merit, Crabtree was managing partner of a CPA firm in the greater Chicago area. He has more than 30 years of public accounting and tax consulting experience in a wide variety of industries, and has worked closely with top executives to help them optimize their tax planning strategies.